“Affirmative action, the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help end past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin was originally enacted to help African-Americans become full citizens of the United States” (Sykes, 1995).In America, affirmative action refers to laws, programs and social policies developed to “overcome the effects of and reduce discrimination that limits opportunities for a variety of demographic groups in various social institutions (American Psychological Association: APA, 1996). Additional laws on equal protection enacted to make acts of discrimination illegal are the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title II and VII and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Title II and VII was enacted to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations and sex and race discrimination in employment. While the 1965 voting Rights Act was adapted when congress established that racial discrimination in voting was an evil that had been upheld in certain parts of America through incessant, cunning, deviance of the constitution. Affirmative action laws, policies and programs are meant to apportion education, employment and public contacting opportunities or jobs and resources to people of specific groups for instance: women and minorities. Both the public and private sector are prohibited from employment discrimination based on color, race, national origin and sex by Title VII of the Civil Acts Rights of the 1964 Local public agencies and private firms with government contracts in many states across America have adopted policies that are race-conscious such as employment goals to cut hiring disparities and targeted employment (APA, 1999). Unlike the Equal Employment Opportunity commission E.E.O.C. Affirmative action goes a step further by requiring organizations to take action to meet an equal representation of workers and make sure that opportunities are equal for all regardless of gender and race by setting objectives timetables of occurrences where many inequalities may have existed. Employers subject to affirmative action plans are government agencies, academic institutions, government contractors and companies with 15 or more employees. There are different forms that affirmative action can take, generally actions are written in to state or federal law. They may also take the form of consent decrees or voluntary plans that satisfy the certain criteria in compliance with Title VII. “Guidelines that elaborate on how to develop lawful affirmative action plans under Title VII have been promulgated by the E.E.O.C to avoid a situation where such plans unduly interfere with job opportunities of non minority male applicants or workers to the extent that their interests are needlessly trammeled” (US legal.com, 2010). Although affirmative action is used in private organizations and companies its use in both recruitment and contract prerequisites has been more predominate in the public sector. “Executive Order 11246 requires federal contractors and subcontractors with more than 50 employees or a contract of $50,000 or more to develop and written affirmative action plan to which employers commit themselves to apply good faith efforts” (US legal, 2010). Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all companies with a non liable state contract or sub contract exceeding $10,000 and demands that affirmative action programs be employed in all HR practices for persons with disabilities. The “Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 calls for contractors or subcontractors with a non exempt government contract of $ 25,000 or more to have an affirmative action programs in all HR practices for special disabled veterans who served on active duty during a war or campaign in where a campaign badge was authorized”.(US legal, 2010)
On rare occurrences when employers do not meet the goals of the affirmative action plan a court may impose affirmative action remedies on discrimination effects.
American Psychological Association. (1996). Clarifying the debate: Psychology Examines the issues: Affirmative action: Who benefits? Washington DC: American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association (1999). Resolution on Affirmative action and Equal Opportunity. Web.
Sykes M. (1995). National Organization for Women. The origin of affirmative action. Web.
US Legal. (2010). Voluntary implementation of affirmative action. Web.